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Factba.se: Australia DFAT Country Briefs - Ghana
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COUNTRY BRIEFS


INTRODUCTION

Australia enjoys good relations with Ghana based on a long history of engagement, strengthening commercial links and shared views on a number of international issues, including World Trade Organization and Commonwealth matters. Australia established diplomatic relations with Ghana in 1957. The Australian High Commission in Accra was re-opened in 2004, having been closed in 1985. Ghana re-opened its High Commission in Canberra in 2005.

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POLITICAL OVERVIEW

In 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence. Today, Ghana is a stable constitutional democracy with universal suffrage, governed by the Constitution of 1992, with a president as head of state. Its unicameral parliament and president are popularly elected every four years. The president is directly elected and his or her party will not necessarily hold the majority in parliament (although this has been the case for all governments elected under the 1992 Constitution). The powers of the president are wide-ranging and far-reaching. The president appoints a vice-president, who must be nominated as a running mate prior to presidential elections taking place, and government ministers.

The election of John Kufuor as President in December 2000 marked the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power between parliamentary parties in Ghana since independence. At the completion of his second four-year term, President Kufuor will be ineligible under the Ghanaian constitution to stand again in the Presidential election, due to take place in December 2008.

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ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Ghana possesses significant natural resources, in particular gold, timber, bauxite, manganese and industrial diamonds, but remains heavily dependent on international assistance provided largely by EU countries, North America and the World Bank. Its domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 35 per cent of GDP and employs around 55 per cent of the work force, mainly small landholders. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country program in 2002, and was included in a G-8 debt relief program decided at the Gleneagles Summit in July 2005. Priorities under Ghana's current Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility include: macroeconomic stability; private sector competitiveness; human resource development; and good governance and civic responsibility. Ghana's good economic management combined with high world prices for gold and cocoa sustained GDP growth for 2007. The IMF forecasts Ghana's real GDP growth at 6.9 per cent in 2008, an increase from 6.4 per cent in 2007.

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BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

The re-opening of an Australian mission in Ghana's capital, Accra, in mid-2004, reflects the increased involvement of Australian companies in the mining sector and in oil and gas exploration across the region. It also reflects Australia's growing interests in West Africa. These include encouraging good governance and cooperation on trade policy and international security issues, as well as protecting the interests of Australians working and travelling in the region. Ghana has made significant achievements over the last decade in democratisation, economic reform and support for peace processes across the West African region.

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BILATERAL ECONOMIC AND TRADE RELATIONSHIP

Australia's trade with Ghana is modest, valued at $113 million in 2007. Australia's exports to Ghana totalled $104 million in 2007, the major items being civil engineering equipment, meat, specialised machinery and hand tools. Imports from Ghana during the same period totalled $8 million, comprising cocoa and wood products.

A significant dynamic in Australia's relations with Africa in recent years has been the growth of new Australian mining investment throughout Africa with over 200 companies active in the continent, including in West Africa. A number of Australian mining companies operate in Ghana's mining sector, primarily in gold mining. Australian companies based in Ghana are significant providers of mining services such as exploration, drilling, engineering, consulting and contracting.

The first-ever Australian Business Mission to Ghana visited in June 2008 to investigate further commercial opportunities between Ghana and Australia, including in non-mining manufactures and services.

Aid to Ghana

The Australian High Commission in Accra administers a Direct Aid Program which provides small grant assistance to individuals and community groups to alleviate poverty, improve their environment and promote respect of basic human rights. It also implements a Small Activities Scheme which supports community-based activities implemented by NGOs promoting sustainable economic and social development, including: water and sanitation projects, literacy and numeracy training, waste recycling, and a regeneration program around an important cultural heritage site.

Funding is also provided through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), and, from 2006, the Australian-funded African Regional Small Activities Scheme. Under the ANCP, Australia is funding World Vision Australia to assist children develop disaster management knowledge and skills, and helping International Needs Australia to rehabilitate and enhance the employment opportunities for women liberated from ritual enslavement. In 2007-2008, Australia also provided $500,000 in food aid to Ghana through the World Food Programme following widespread flooding in northern Ghana.

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Last Updated: August 2008

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